DC Influencer: Brian Graff, American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries

Brian Graff, CEO of the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries, outlines why 401(k) tax incentives need help from the public.

Brian Graff, CEO of the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries, outlines why 401(k) tax incentives need help from the public.

What is the threat to 401(k) tax incentives? 
Since Congress needs to reduce the federal debt and budget deficit, they could consider cutting the tax incentives of employer-sponsored retirement plans to help increase short-term tax collections.

The last time Congress made major tax code changes, it cut 401(k) contribution limits by more than 70%. Our goal is to educate Congress and urge it to maintain 401(k) tax incentives that are the foundation of American workers' retirement savings.  The most important factor in determining if a worker is saving for retirement is whether or not there is a plan at work. Workers earning between $30,000 and $50,000 are 14 times more likely to save at work than on their own.

Does the average consumer understand how 401(k)s could be hurt by tax reform?  
More than 60 million American workers are covered by a 401(k) or a similar plan – almost 80% make less than $100,000 per year. The campaign educates them so they know the incentives that power their 401(k) plans could get axed if they don't act. 

We urge workers to contact members of Congress asking them to preserve tax incentives that encourage employers to offer 401(k) plans and employees to participate.

How did you perform outreach? 
Save My 401(k) is a grassroots effort to leverage the power and emotion of social media via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

We launched the campaign by engaging our membership – all of whom are retirement plan professionals. They sent personalized emails through their business and personal networks encouraging recipients to visit savemy401k.com and email Congress and forward the message to friends, family, and associates. 

We also garnered attention in media outlets such as CNN, CNBC, WUSA-TV (DC), USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, among others.

Was the effort a success?  
The goal – to send Congress a collective 250,000 emails – is on track, with approximately 60,000 sent to date.

The campaign is still in its infancy and will build in intensity when Congress begins tax reform deliberations this year.

We will then place ads with targeted messages encouraging the audience to again send an email to Congress via the savemy401k.com website.

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